From the Sounds of Nature series

A lackadaisical series also-ran with a poorly produced gimmick.

Profiles of 10 saltwater environments, with portraits of select wildlife and audio soundscapes.

Washing up in the wake of World of Forests (2019), this equally flaccid effort surveys, in no particular order, marine settings, including the depths of the Marianas Trench, a Cornish “rockpool,” and the fresh/saltwater mix of Florida’s Everglades. For each locale Grace and Hunter offer a general description, six to eight recognizable if not finely detailed images of local wildlife crowded together, and notes on sounds that each one might make. These are supposedly reproduced in a quick sequence of fragmentary and only rarely distinctive hoots, howls, scrapes, clicks, grunts, and splashes activated by pressing a designated spot on the page. The notes range from perfunctory filler (sea gulls have “lots of different calls”) to a bald claim that the crown of thorns starfish produces a ringing noise through “an electrical signal from its eyes” that really needs more explanation. Furthermore, the animals are not drawn to scale, and land dwellers such as the poison dart frog (included in a spread about Brazilian coastal waters) and the Sumatran tiger (Indonesian island waters) are, at best, outliers in a cast of marine creatures. The sound chip is powered by three replaceable button batteries; there is no on/off switch.

A lackadaisical series also-ran with a poorly produced gimmick. (Informational novelty. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-78603-793-0

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Wide Eyed Editions

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

1001 BEES

Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere.

This book is buzzing with trivia.

Follow a swarm of bees as they leave a beekeeper’s apiary in search of a new home. As the scout bees traverse the fields, readers are provided with a potpourri of facts and statements about bees. The information is scattered—much like the scout bees—and as a result, both the nominal plot and informational content are tissue-thin. There are some interesting facts throughout the book, but many pieces of trivia are too, well trivial, to prove useful. For example, as the bees travel, readers learn that “onion flowers are round and fluffy” and “fennel is a plant that is used in cooking.” Other facts are oversimplified and as a result are not accurate. For example, monofloral honey is defined as “made by bees who visit just one kind of flower” with no acknowledgment of the fact that bees may range widely, and swarm activity is described as a springtime event, when it can also occur in summer and early fall. The information in the book, such as species identification and measurement units, is directed toward British readers. The flat, thin-lined artwork does little to enhance the story, but an “I spy” game challenging readers to find a specific bee throughout is amusing.

Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere. (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-500-65265-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021


From the Everything Awesome About… series

A quick flight but a blast from first to last.

A charged-up roundup of astro-facts.

Having previously explored everything awesome about both dinosaurs (2019) and sharks (2020), Lowery now heads out along a well-traveled route, taking readers from the Big Bang through a planet-by-planet tour of the solar system and then through a selection of space-exploration highlights. The survey isn’t unique, but Lowery does pour on the gosh-wow by filling each hand-lettered, poster-style spread with emphatic colors and graphics. He also goes for the awesome in his selection of facts—so that readers get nothing about Newton’s laws of motion, for instance, but will come away knowing that just 65 years separate the Wright brothers’ flight and the first moon landing. They’ll also learn that space is silent but smells like burned steak (according to astronaut Chris Hadfield), that thanks to microgravity no one snores on the International Space Station, and that Buzz Aldrin was the first man on the moon…to use the bathroom. And, along with a set of forgettable space jokes (OK, one: “Why did the carnivore eat the shooting star?” “Because it was meteor”), the backmatter features drawing instructions for budding space artists and a short but choice reading list. Nods to Katherine Johnson and NASA’s other African American “computers” as well as astronomer Vera Rubin give women a solid presence in the otherwise male and largely White cast of humans. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A quick flight but a blast from first to last. (Informational picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-35974-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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